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5 Powerful Strategies To Re-engage your Email Subscribers in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Subscriber (noun): a person who has arranged to receive or access a service

Engage (verb): occupy or attract someone’s attention

Put the two together and you get…

‘An engaged subscriber’

…that wonderful pinnacle that every Email Marketer wants to reach!

Email Marketing is powerful. But it doesn’t always work. And when this happens, you get disengaged subscribers! These are the people who have not opened your emails in a while. But this doesn’t  mean that you simply let them go, and here’s why.

Disengaged subscribers are a big part of your email list. They chose to subscribe to your emails and chose to hear from you. That’s why they’re still your audience. Working on your disengaged subscriber list can improve your list quality, reduce subscriber churn, improve your domain health and even convert your email subscribers into leads. And that’s why, you need to re-engage your email subscribers for as long as you can.

But how can you re-engage your email subscribers?

Well, if you’re using Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) as your ESP, then you have many available strategies to re-engage your email subscribers. We will cover 5 such strategies in this brief article. We will also provide a brief introduction to re-engagement emails in SFMC. 

If you’re looking for more general information on re-engagement emails or how to run a successful re-engagement email campaign, take a look at our article here.

What is a re-engagement email in SMFC?

Think of a re-engagement email as a virtual “Hello, we miss you!” It is an effort to coax your readers back into engaging with your brand. Here is a good email example:

A few ways to do this include:

  • Polls and surveys: Ask subscribers to complete a poll or survey, and send them a free gift or promo code when they complete it
  • Competition: Use contests or giveaways to generate interest in your campaign
  • Coupon or promo code: Send a special promo code or coupon with a message reminding them that it’s been a while since they engaged with your emails
  • New product recommendations: Send a campaign with personalized product recommendations

Before you send a re-engagement email in SFMC, make sure you:

  • Remind them of the benefits of being a subscriber
  • Make the interaction personal (see strategy #5 on personalization)
  • Humanize your brand. Remember that you’re emailing real people

Now that you know more about re-engagement-emails in SFMC, let’s get into our first re-engagement strategy. 

#1: Identify inactive subscribers and send them re-engagement emails

Inactive subscribers are those who ‘opted in’ and have valid email addresses, but haven’t opened or clicked (on) your emails in a while. A good way to re-engage them is to send them re-engagement emails. But before that, you need to know how to identify them. The most obvious way to do this is to start by defining an inactive period. So if a subscriber has not opened or clicked on your email in say, 30 days, you can mark them as ‘inactive’.

SFMC is powered by a comprehensive analytics ecosystem. This means that if you want to extract a list of engaged subscribers in SFMC, you can. And if you want to identify dis-engaged subscribers, SFMC can help you with that too.

Look for Email Studio Reports in Analytics Builder. The two relevant reports are:

1. Subscriber Engagement

This report displays which subscribers are most or least engaged with emails. You can specify the percentage of subscribers to include in this report based on the highest click-to-sent ratio, or you can limit the report to include only subscribers to whom you have sent a certain minimum number of emails (say, 5). Use this report to identify your most engaged subscribers and target them for special offers.

2. Unengaged Subscribers for a List

This report displays which subscribers on a specified list are unresponsive after multiple email sends. Use this information to target certain subscribers for re-engagement emails or at least to ask them if they’d still like to receive your email communications. You can also use this report to clean up your subscriber list.

You can also use Einstein Engagement Scoring, a data science-driven feature that helps you target customers to maximize engagement and conversions. With Einstein Engagement Scoring, you can:

  • Monitor the health of your engaged subscriber list in a dashboard
  • Segment your subscriber list to identify and target a specific audience based on their predicted likelihood to engage with your campaigns
  • Target subscribers through SFMC applications like Email Studio, Journey Builder, Advertising Studio or Audience Builder

Once you know who your inactive or dis-engaged subscribers are, you can design your re-engagement strategy and send them re-engagement emails.

#2: Address their spam complaints

A dis-engaged subscriber is usually one who ignores your email campaigns. But there is another type of dis-engaged subscriber that is equally bad for your brand’s health. These are the subscribers who complain that your emails are ‘spam’. Some common reasons for this include:

  • They receive emails from your brand too often: Cut down on the number of emails you send
  • Your emails don’t have a clear CTA: Include an enticing call to action that convinces the subscriber to stay on
  • They find it difficult to unsubscribe: Make your unsubscribe process simple and easy (see below). And you never know, they may change their mind about unsubscribing!

How to build your email opt-out flow

Step 1: Complete pre-work for the email opt-out flow

Create one queue, activate two fields and connect your support email address

Step 2: Create an email opt-out flow

Create a flow that lets leads and contacts unsubscribe from your email campaigns. Make sure you activate the flow

Step 3: Create a process to trigger the email opt-out flow

Use Process Builder (see #5 below) to create the process, tell the process to run when a new case enters the unsubscribe requests queue and then run the flow when the above criteria are met

#3: Create an automated process with Process Builder

SFMC Process Builder is a ‘point-and-click’ tool that lets you easily automate ‘if/then’ business processes and see a graphical representation of your process. 

Process Builder can be used to build an automated process to email inactive/dis-engaged subscribers using a specific template. Here’s what you will see when you start building a process:

Automated process with Process Builder
Source

Follow these steps to create a process in Process Builder to re-engage inactive leads:

  • Create a field to capture last activity date
  • Create process criteria
  • Create an email alert process action
  • Create a task to log the email in the activity feed

#4: Make templates work for you

You already know that email templates in SFMC can help you create campaigns faster and better. But did you know that templates can also help strengthen your re-engagement strategy?

In addition to creating an email template with a clear and well thought-out message, you should add a merge field to your template to capture the lead or customer’s first and last name. You can create different email templates, one for each type of audience.

Next, add the email opt-out field to your record page layout. Select it when a lead or contact says that they no longer wish to receive your communication.

Then add the last activity field to your lead and contact records to show the date and time that you last communicated with your customer.

Finally, send your email to inactive subscribers. In SFMC, you can do this through one of three ways:

  • One by one: Best suited if you don’t have many inactive subscribers and want to keep a close eye on communications
  • Manually, in bulk: Suitable if you have a large, inactive group of subscribers but still want to track who receives an email
  • Automatically, in bulk: Use SFMC Process Builder to send emails weekly, monthly or quarterly to inactive subscribers

#5: Optimize your emails to decrease unsubscribes

If your brand’s email unsubscribe rates are higher than 0.4%, you should look into improving your content. Personalization should be a big part of this strategy.

To start off, define buyer personas and create a library of content blocks in SFMC Email Studio where each piece is identified by a persona. Once you’ve perfected your main message, select a pre-existing personalized content block that will go into your secondary content, and then include personalization in one (or more) of these ways:

  • Pre-header
  • Header
  • Content
  • Subject line
  • Greeting

In addition to content personalization, make sure you optimize your emails for mobile. Studies have found that 69% of mobile users delete emails that aren’t optimized for their device. Don’t become part of this statistic!

Wrap up

Re-engaging with inactive subscribers is an ongoing, exhaustive process. However, the above 5 re-engagement strategies should give you a good start. But, if none of these work, it may be time to cull these subscribers from your list and focus on the subscribers who are still engaged. Just make sure you don’t cut your losses too early. You may end up regretting it!

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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